December 12, 2009

10 Myths About Domestic Violence

I think this blog post is something that anyone that has dealt with Domestic Violence, or has a family member or friend involved in Domestic Violence should read.  I agree with many points within this blog, and feel that one of the most important things that we as Advocates and Survivors need to do is help dispel the myths and misconceptions that many have surrounding Domestic Violence.

10 Myths About Domestic Violence 

1. Only women are victims of domestic violence.  

Between 2001 and 2005, 22% of all reports regarding nonfatal violence cited females over the age of 12 as the victims and...

 2. Domestic violence occurs only in lower-class, uneducated, or minority households.

Domestic violence does not discriminate against socioeconomic, educational, age, sexual preference, or racial lines any more than it does gender. It can happen to anyone...

3. Instances of domestic violence are actually quite rare.

In May of 2002 alone, 16 of the largest urban counties in the United States reported a combined total of 3,750 cases of intimate partner violence. Trending data shows...

4. Domestic violence is usually a one-time-only occurrence.

In May of 2002, 46% of convictions for nonfatal intimate partner violence had a history of prior abuse towards the victim. While some instances of domestic violence only involve one incident...

5. Victims of domestic violence usually provoke the abuse. 

A blame the victim philosophy surrounds many violent crimes, with fingers pointed towards men and women alike who find themselves on the receiving end of abuse questioned almost as intensively as their assailants. Many mistakenly believe...

6. Substance abuse is the root cause of domestic disturbances. 

Drugs and alcohol amplify aggression, and many men and women abuse their spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends, or other intimate partners while under the influence. However...

7. Domestic violence is an issue that only needs addressing between the people involved.

The fact that 21.8% of female victims and 39.2% of male victims fail to report their abuse at the hands of an intimate partner because they believe the matter is best handled...

8. Improving a broken relationship can stop a batterer.  

In believing that working on the relationship between abuser and victim makes for a solution to end abuse, the mindset that...

9. Victims stay in violent situations because they secretly enjoy being beaten.  

Another corollary to the blame the victim perspective labels repeat recipients of domestic abuse as masochists who stay in violent situations because...

10. Domestic violence is a side effect of a patriarchal society or filial structure. 

Many perceive domestic abuse as a negative aspect of living within a patriarchal society or a family where men dominate over the women. Studies have shown...

Original Blog Post

December 4, 2009

Knight in Tarnished Armor

One of our members shared the link to a story written by a Domestic Violence Survivor, and I've since talked to her and gotten permission to share with you the below.  Not many Survivors are able to put in book form what they went through for many various reasons, and it's always amazing when yet another Survivor is able to do so.  I not only thank Erin for writing this book, but for reaching out to others that are in need of her courage!

Knight in Tarnished Armor

I often have said that if domestic violence was going to happen to anyone, it was a good thing it happened to me.  I was raised in a very loving, kind, stable household.  My parents are the best, and there was hardly ever a voice raised in our house, let alone people beating on others.  I grew up with a strong sense of self, fierce independence and a lot of self esteem.  I had supported myself for years before I got married and really wasn't all that interested in getting married, until my "knight" came along.  So when it came time to get out - I did - after almost three years of abuse.  But I couldn't get off my mind the women who have gone through similar circumstances and didn't have the fortitude or the support group that I did.  I didn't have children, didn't have to go to a shelter, didn't have to go find a job or place to live.  I had it easy - and still almost ended up dead.  I just kept thinking of the thousands and thousands of women who go to bed at night praying they will wake up in the morning and almost wishing they wouldn't because they will have to go through another day of abuse.  So, this book kept writing itself in my head.  Heck, I'm not an author, but I wrote a book about what I know, and I know domestic violence.  I'm stronger for it and my goal is to help anyone, woman, man, child, whomever, make it out and live life the way it should be lived - without fear of being abused, beaten or killed. 

In addition to my book, I've taken classes and courses and attended seminars and have read countless books on abuse.  I co-founded a support group for women which meets once a month.  This group isn't just for abuse victims, it's for anyone woman who needs the support of other women. Then I have "Sit and Sip" - which I call comfort sessions. These are conversations - either e-mail, phone or in person - with domestic violence victims where basically I let them talk.  I have found that I'm a very good listener and have the knack to ask questions that draws out what a victim needs to get out without making them feel pressured.  One woman, a stranger, called me out of the blue and talked for 4 hours.  At the end, she said, "You know, I've never told anyone my story from beginning to end before.  My life really sucks!" And she left her abuser right after that and is a very successful real estate agent now.  All she needed was to see her life in perspective, for someone to listen, and that's what I do.

The Knight has been out since September 8, 2009 and the feed back I have been getting is exciting and humbling at the same time.  I wrote this book for one reason - to help other victims - and I'm glad to say what I have been hearing is that it's doing just that.  There is a safety plan (compliments of Focus Ministries - a WONDERFUL organization for victims) and encouragement after my story.  One woman ordered one for herself and after she read it she ordered four more to send to each of her granddaughters.  I've have done a few radio interviews, but I do have to be careful with where I do what because my ex is still out there and if knows I've revealed his dirty secrets for all the world to see...I'm dead...he WILL kill me, no doubt in my mind. 

I guess the best way to sum it up is to read what I have written on my website and I'll include it here:

Welcome to my World

During the years of marriage to the man I thought was my knight in shining armor, the violence that quickly escalated took me by surprise.  I had no idea the man he truly was, was not the man I married; sweet, considerate, loving and gentle.  There were reasons for the abuse, I was told, so I waited, hoping it would stop. As the violence increased, I started a journal to document what  was happening.  I would document our latest "encounter", make a copy and give it to my mother to hold in a large manilla envelope - just in case he killed me, there would be enough proof to put him away forever.  Sounds a bit sad, but when you are a victim, you think like a victim.

What you will read in my book are those actual journal entries, as well as letters I had written to my husband and his doctors.  I have filled in with facts between the entries to flesh out my story and give you a glimpse into the world of a domestic violence victim.

But the important part of Knight in Tarnished Armor is not my story.  The important part is the advice at the end, the safety plan, the encouragement, and hopefully the realization that if you are a victim, you are just one step away to being a survivor - that one step out the door that will lead to your freedom. I'm not saying it's easy, but believe me, it's worth it.

I have my life back. I've never been happier and I'm stronger for having walked through the fire.  You can do it too and become the woman you want to be.  Take that step, we are here to help.

December 1, 2009

Out of the Chaos of DV, is Born a New Family...

Too often Domestic Violence situations go severely wrong, so it is wonderful to hear stories of them going right.  Below is a story of love, strength, and the commitment to children to protect them, and the bringing together of family.

This hits me personally because I myself am adopted, and have worked with children within the Foster Care system.  Too often we hear of those again that go wrong within the system, here is a family that has not only survived but has Thrived through the adversities...

Before clips from 2 sources covering the wonderful event of adoption is a message from Chelsea Hayes.  She has shared her story and that of the children she loves in order to help others understand a little bit more about Domestic Violence from a Survivors perspective.  After which follows links and an original article about the day of adoption.

Again, I want to express my Congratulations to this family, and a deep heartened Thank You for sharing your story.

A word from a Survivor and a Wonderful Mom...

Here is a speech I have given to other nurses and graduating police officers that i would like to share with you:

First let me begin by thanking you for the opportunity to listen to me speak.  Please let me begin by giving you a little history about me….My name is Chelsea and I am a survivor of Domestic violence. I am 29 years old and I am a Nurse. I worked in a local ER for 6 years, and was a volunteer EMT and Firefighter for 4 years. I now work full time in a doctor’s office. I have 5 kids 4 of whom I have now successfully adopted from my ex-husband and 1 biological son. I have never been arrested, I don’t smoke or drink..I was married for 4 years to an extremely abusive man. We met when I was 23 in June of 2003, his 4 children came to live with us 3 weeks later, their mother has and had a severe drug problem and mental issues. We married in October 2003 I got pregnant in November 2003, and I left August 8th 2006. My divorce was final in Sept 2008; I had to wait until after the final trial to legally divorce him so that my testimony during the criminal trial could be preserved. In May 2009 he was sentenced to 20 ½ years with 10 suspended for two counts of 1st degree assault and violating my protective order. The original charges were attempted murder 1st degree assault (twice) False imprisonment and violating my protective order 10 times. We plead down after 3 trials because I did not want the 4 children to testify. The states attorney and their therapists said it would be too much for them and I agreed (1 trial because he plead Not Criminally Responsible, 1 trial for the criminal charges with a hung jury, 1 juror could not decide, and the final trial where he was found guilty) the sentencing was in May 2009. He filed for an appeal that trial was in October 2009 in front of a panel of 3 judges and it was denied. I legally adopted my 4 stepdaughters from the state November 20th 2009. He should be out of jail in 1-3 years from now depending on his behavior while incarcerated.

In the beginning I loved my husband and was ready to spend the rest of my life with him, I truly thought that he was a good man, and a wonderful father, he just had a little bit of a temper… Sometimes.  He would get mad sometimes, it started with yelling every now and then, then he started throwing things at me when he got mad, from there it slowly escalated to controlling my friends, made me quit my job, controlled who I talked to and what I talked about. Then it started to progress to physical violence and a lot of verbal abuse.

Looking at the cycle of violence it now all make sense to me. He completely isolated me from my friends and family, put me down on a daily basis; I never had any money unless I asked for it. He never supported my education. He was Completely obsessed with sex always accusing me of cheating on him, he also liked to use the kids to make me feel bad telling me that I was a bad mother and even using the kids to watch me and what I was doing or saying, he would threaten to kill me, himself, my family or the kids if I left or he said he would move with the kids to another country if I left and I would never see them again. He said if I left and took our son he would grow up a bastard because he would never have anything to do with him or kill himself. He said I would never ever be able to keep the 4 girls because they were not biologically mine. He tried to kill me more than once, shot a gun off in front of my infant son, and me twice. He treated me like a
servant making comments that the house was dirty and would not eat any food that I cooked, HE never let me go to church or get our children baptized and I was raised in a religious school and was accustomed to going to church, He was also very intimidating constantly making threats that I did not love him, I was cheating on him or that he would leave with the kids, often he would threaten physical violence if I disagreed with him things as simple as what time the kids should go bed.

I never ever thought that when I married him he would try to kill me. In August of 2006 he did try to kill me, he beat me unconscious with a rock in front of all of the children, Thought I was dead loaded me into the car to bury me and then proceeded to tell my children that he was going to kill them too but he said he would bury my son and I together..so we could be together. I woke up and basically was attacked again, talked my way out of him killing me by swearing to him that I would never tell anyone what happened, that I was a nurse I could take care of my own injuries and no one would ever know, just to please let me live. He held the children and I at gunpoint for an entire week before I finally had the opportunity to leave.

Something important that I think you should know and understand as healthcare professionals is that if you suspect in the slightest way that someone is being abused do not make a judgment. Do not force the person to leave or tell them what they should do. Instead listen to what they have to say, keep an open mind that if someone is talking to you about being abused it may be the first time. The very last thing they need to hear, believe it or not is why don’t you just leave. I heard this so many times in the hospital and by police officers. The truth is it truly not that simple to “ just leave”. Most of these women are so torn down emotionally they truly believe this relationship however harmful it is, is their only option.  Again I never thought I would be with some one who controlled me and abused me as much as he did.   Women in abusive relationships are extremely co-dependant on their abusers and they truly believe that this is it; this is what they are stuck with. For me it was extremely complicated because there were 5 little children involved 4 of whom were not biologically mine.  That I could not just leave with him.

Unfortunately, all of my children were witness to domestic violence and it took me a long time to realize that he controlled me and he controlled our children. My children have suffered immensely due to the violence that they witnessed. Children know, they hear, they feel, they see it all and most important they remember. As much as I wish they did not know all this they do because they saw it heard it and were apart of it, they will never forget and it affects them daily. My children would even be so terrified of their dad they would lie to police and social workers about him.  He would tell them what to say, he would tell them if I called the police they had to say I hit him even though I had not so I would go to jail not him. So I would not call or I would lie when they came. All of my children have severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  When we lived with my ex husband two of my children failed grades, he would often keep them home to watch me alternating between the four older children. In 3 years we lived at least 10 different places. He would move us when the neighbors or police started to ask questions.

The children are the ones that seem to be most forgotten about in all of this violence, but I think being exposed to this violence so profoundly influences them. In the end the breaking point for me was not when he tried to kill me but when I woke up and realized what had happened that he thought I was dead and so did my children, that my children had seen it all, and all of them were too scared to help me, to run next door  to the police officer’s house or call 911. That is when I knew I had to do something to help myself because no one was going to help me or my children.

That week while held hostage in my own home I was able to make a phone call and spoke with one man named Bill Mitchell who took the time to share with me his story about his daughter Kristen Mitchell and how she had been stabbed to death by her boyfriend, his family had lost their daughter…forever.  I thought that cold be me, that coul dbe my mom or sister  telling that story. After I heard him I had finally gathered enough strength I got that extra reality check, that extra strength to know I HAD to leave. After the support of my sister, mom, one man named Bill Mitchell and one single police officer that finally took the time to listen to me and not make any judgments. I left – I left with just me and my 5 kids I had $500.00 and no clothes, toys-nothing except me my kids and a cell phone. I made the decision for me and my children to leave everything behind. We lost everything the house the toys the car everything all gone. I have had to rebuild
slowly getting clothes and toys from friends and family. But no matter how hard it is it will never be as hard as living one day the way we did.

As healthcare professionals try to keep in mind that if you suspect Violence try and definitely talk ALONE with the patient. Let them know that there are options to help them. Let them know that you are there to listen and not make any judgments, encourage them to make baby steps toward a plan for better different life if not for them for their children. Do not make false promises but let them know that there are many resources in the community to help women in their situation, to help keep them safe. Encourage them to try and confide in at least one person and tell that person how they are feeling and what is happening, keep a journal or notebook of dates. It is very difficult to understand how a person lives day by day with their abuser.

Also keep in mind that if the abuser is with the victim a very good way to get the trust of the abuser is to get on his good side however hard that my be for you, In order to help the victim you have to have the trust of the abuser. This is really hard to do but try as hard as you cannot to make judgments if you suspect abuse. The abuser controls the victim.  If he suspects that you have any hard feelings toward him he will shut her down automatically. He took me to the hospital numerous times, but the second he thought someone suspected abuse he made me leave.

Let me end with a few very interesting facts that I have learned about Domestic violence. Did you know..
Every 9 seconds a woman is physical abused in this country
Domestic Violence is the #1 cause of birth defects according to the march of dimes?
67% of abusers abuse their children
30% of all murders are women being killed by their partners
In 87% of violent homes, children witness the battering.
According to the US department of justice almost 54% of all men experienced physical assault as a child at the hands of an adult caretaker.

Now after I have left life is not easy, not easy at all it is extremely stressful being a single parent of 5 children with severe emotional issues, trying to make ends meet. Trying to make family members understand why I stayed, and some believe it or not why I left…and many whom blame me for their son, brother or uncle being in jail. But every day I am free- free to work, free to be a good parent, free to say what I want when I want, Every day gets better and better and for me and my children and I am truly thankful for every day in my life, because I know that every day is a gift to me and my children.

Thank you again for your time I hoped I have helped you understand a little bit more about Domestic Violence from a Survivors perspective. Thank you Chelsea Hayes






Adoption Day in Montgomery Co. Court

Two dozen families officially unite

Updated: Friday, 20 Nov 2009, 5:58 PM EST
Published : Friday, 20 Nov 2009, 5:58 PM EST
By TISHA THOMPSON/myfoxdc

ROCKVILLE, Md. - In a place where fidgety kids are normally not allowed, Montgomery County Courthouse #1 became 2-year-old Walter Best’s personal playground.

Walter crawled under court benches, grabbed at cameras and ran circles around the packed courtroom.

“I’ve been running behind him in the courtroom,” his exhausted grandmother Doris Deltoro explained. “But it’s worth it. It’s worth it.”

It's woorth it because Doris and her husband, Jose Deltoro, were waiting to adopt Walter. They were one of more than two dozen groups waiting to finally become a family.

Across the courtroom, John Ward and Marco Beltran beamed as they showed off 1-year-old Anthony.

Known only as a foster child named Baby Boy Doe, Anthony arrived at their home when he was just 3 days old.

“We were open to pretty much any child,” Ward explained. “We happened to have a crib, a nursery ready to go, and Anthony came.”

Beltran cried as Circuit Court Judge Katherine Savage called the new family to the dais and announced to the crowd, “Here come those magic words.” She read, “This is the judgment for adoption and change of name,” and the signed the document, officially giving Anthony his name.

Later, 12 year-old Sabrina Hayes stood with her three sisters as another judge declared all four the children of their stepmother, Chelsea Hayes.

“We were exposed to a lot of domestic violence,” Chelsea said.

She explained how she fled her marriage by taking her ex-husband’s four girls with her.

“I never thought I would be able to have the girls because they weren’t my biological children,” Hayes said.

Six years later, Sabrina said the ceremony was “amazing because I know I have somebody to love and somebody who loves me and we have a stable home.”

Her eldest sister, 15-year-old Samantha Hayes, then told her new mother, “I love you. Thank you for being there even in the bad times.”

Finally, it was little Walter’s turn, who calmed down just long enough for a judge to transform his paternal grandparents into simply “Mommy” and “Daddy.”

But within minutes, Walter was back in form, hollering at the top of his lungs as a worn-out but jubilant Doris smiled. “It’s a proud day,” she said. “I’m so happy.”

Original Article

ABC7 News Video

November 30, 2009

Mo. man suspected in Kansas killing of wife, kids

By JOHN HANNA
Associated Press Writer

BURLINGAME, Kan. - A former city official from Missouri who lost his job after he was charged with assaulting his wife was accused Sunday of fatally shooting her and their teenage daughters in eastern Kansas.

The Kansas attorney general's office said in a statement that James Kraig Kahler, 46, was arrested Sunday on suspicion of three counts of capital murder in the deaths of his 44-year-old wife, Karen, and their daughters, Emily, 18, and 16-year-old Lauren.

He also is accused of attempted first-degree murder in the shooting of his wife's 89-year-old grandmother, Dorothy Wight, in whose home near Topeka the bodies were discovered on Saturday night.

Read More Here

November 28, 2009

DV ends in adoption

Not all situations of Domestic Violence end up well, too often families are torn apart, too often step parents that were the victim looses children that they have become attached too, and the children end up in worse situations without someone to protect them.  Too often, the abuser gets custody of the children.

To see something as special as this is heartwarming, and makes you feel good that this Survivor not only has survived her situation, but was able to adopt and continue to protect children that has now become legally her family.  Children that now have a bright future, and aren't stuck in the system.   Children that now have a chance to live abuse free!

Again, I want to Congratulate this family!  It is amazing what Chelsea has done and is continuing to do,

November 25, 2009

ARE YOU A CARROT, AN EGG, OR A COFFEE BEAN?

This was shared by a very special Survivor, and although not news, it's something that I think so many should read and think about, mostly those that are or have been through DV.


by Mary Sullivan
A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her.  She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up.  She was tired of fighting and struggling.  It seemed as if as soon as one problem was solved a new one arose.  Her mother took her to the kitchen.

The mother filled three pots with water.

In the first, she placed carrots.
In the second she placed eggs.
And the last she placed ground coffee beans.

She let them sit and boil without saying a word.  About twenty minutes later, she turned off the burners.

She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her daughter, she said, "Tell me what you see."

"Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied. (You known the tone of voice.)

She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did, and noted that they felt soft.

She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg inside.

Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee.  The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma.

The daughter then asked, "So, what's the point, mother?" (Remember the tone of voice.)

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity - boiling water - but each reacted differently.

The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.

The egg had been fragile.  Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid center. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its insides had become hardened.

The ground coffee beans were unique, however.  After they were in the boiling water...they had changed the water.

"Which are you?" she asked her daughter.  "When adversity knocks on your
door, how do you respond?  Are you a carrot , an egg, or a coffee bean?"

Think of this: Which am I?

Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt
and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat?

Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial
hardship, or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff?  Does my outer shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean?  The bean actually changes the hot water - the very circumstances that bring the pain.  When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor of the bean.  If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you instead of letting it change you.

When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level?

How do you handle Adversity?

ARE YOU A CARROT, AN EGG, OR A COFFEE BEAN?

Stephanie Winegeart

Have a Happy and SAFE Thanksgiving Season

happy-thanksgiving-basket.jpg Happy Thanksgiving Basket picture by angelwingsofdv
Dear Sisters,

I pray that you all have a Happy and SAFE Thanksgiving Season! 

During the Holidays, Domestic Violence escalates.  This is something that has been seen time and time again, and I was reminded of it yet again last night.  I was at a friends home to visit, when her friend that I've met a few times came in with her 2 teenage girls crying.  They had just come from talking to the police about the abusiveness of the father of the girls and a man that the mother had lived with for 15 years.  She was trying to hold out through the Holidays for the girls, but it wasn't meant to be...  Thankfully she had good friends to go to that will help hide her and the girls until she can get on her feet, yet, not all victims have that option.

It was just a reminder of how too many are out there, praying to just get through the holidays, and how many don't have the support that they need.  Along with my Thanksgiving wishes to all is the hope that all of us reach out this season to those that we know, and maybe some that we don't, and support them through the holidays.  Along with that is to let Victims and Survivors know that there is support, and not to be shy about reaching out for it just because it's the Holidays.  There are many that care, and that will support you through it, all you have to do is reach out.......

--
Tracy Hommel
UAADV Founder
Providing the hope to survive today, tomorrow, and beyond...

Thanksgiving1.gif Thanksgiving Wishes picture by angelwingsofdv

November 12, 2009

What is the Second Chance Fund?

This is something I ran across today, and wanted to put it out.  Animal abuse and domestic violence are connected, the connection being understood more and more. The American Humane Society has a fund for those pets that are abused, to help with the medical costs and to give the injured animals a second chance. 

From someone who's abuser abused their pets, I know the reality of the connection, and have heard all too often Victims not wanting to leave a pet behind because they know they'll be hurt by their abuser.  Too often those victims stay because they can't find someone to take the pet and protect them.  Seeing this is a step in the right direction.....

What is the Second Chance Fund?

The medical costs of treating and rehabilitating an abused animal can easily become overwhelming for any animal welfare organization -- particularly when long-term care is necessary. The Second Chance Fund is one way American Humane works to support member organizations in their vital work. By providing financial assistance, in select cases, to animal welfare organizations responsible for the temporary care of animals as they are prepared for adoption into permanent, loving homes, the program provides animal victims of abuse or neglect with a second chance at life.

To read more...

A story of hopeful love, turned to violence and murder

This is something I decided to share on all of the blogs because I feel that through Mildred Muhammad’s pain, society as a whole can see yet again a bit of insight into a Domestic Violence Victim.  Here is a Survivor that dealt with the “hidden” affects of DV, those that aren’t seen but leave deep scars.

“But in general this book is about domestic violence when there are no scars — the domestic abuse that strains the victims' credibility in some minds because there are no broken bones or blackened eyes, and because the perpetrator is such a smooth monster, and John Muhammad was certainly that. He once told his wife, “I'm going to fix it so that no one will ever believe you or want you.” Imagine that, after John Muhammad kidnapped his and Mildred's three children and fled with them to Antigua, where he stayed for 18 months. There were people who knew where her children were, but for whatever reason (maybe, they were afraid of John, too) wouldn't give Mildred any relief.”

This is something I feel that anyone dealing with those going through Domestic Violence should read.  I have yet to read the book myself, but from what I’ve read and heard, it sounds like there were warning signs that could have prevented this monster from removing himself from “Behind Closed Doors” into becoming a monster that thousands feared.  We’ve all “met” the monster, now I feel it’s time to meet the Survivor……

A story of hopeful love, turned to violence and murder

Betty Winston BayĆ© • October 27, 2009

One day my ex-husband and the father of my children will be executed. I am still processing this fact. … Until that day execution seems like just another word. I cannot begin to comprehend how I will feel when this day comes, but I will have to lead my children through their grief.

MILDRED MUHAMMAD,
author of ‘Scared Silent'

The man that Mildred Muhammad loved, married in 1983 and bore three children for was a charming liar and cunning manipulator. He's John Allen (Williams) Muhammad, aka “The D.C. Sniper,” who in 2002, with teenager Lee Boyd Malvo, engaged in a three-week killing spree during which 13 people were shot, 10 of them fatally. The two also are implicated in other murders in Alabama and Tacoma, Wash. Their D.C.-area victims were randomly chosen as they engaged in the most mundane things: mowing grass, pumping gasoline, walking across a mall parking lot and waiting for a school bus. Thus, the terrifying fear as people wondered who would be next.

When they met in Baton Rouge, La., John Williams cast himself as the handsome prince come to sweep Cinderella off her feet. John immediately went to work on Mildred's heart. His tears appealed to her sensitive side as did his tale of a sad childhood in New Orleans, where his mother died of breast cancer. John had big dreams and once looked Mildred in the eye and said, “I'm looking for someone to share my life.” That did it for Mildred, who said that John had her at a disadvantage because “my ideas of how a man should behave in a relationship were all romanticized and based on television, movies and hearsay.”

What Mildred didn't know was that John was already married. Buy the book to learn the rest of that story.

But in general this book is about domestic violence when there are no scars — the domestic abuse that strains the victims' credibility in some minds because there are no broken bones or blackened eyes, and because the perpetrator is such a smooth monster, and John Muhammad was certainly that. He once told his wife, “I'm going to fix it so that no one will ever believe you or want you.” Imagine that, after John Muhammad kidnapped his and Mildred's three children and fled with them to Antigua, where he stayed for 18 months. There were people who knew where her children were, but for whatever reason (maybe, they were afraid of John, too) wouldn't give Mildred any relief.

Perhaps John Muhammad suffered post-traumatic stress after serving in the Gulf War, but even before he joined the Army, there were clues that he may have been a troubled young man. When things didn't go his way — even if it was while playing tag or Monopoly with his children — John would pout and change the rules.

Mildred's story of life with an abusive man who became a notorious killer is the tale of a woman fighting desperately to save her sanity, her physical self and her children. Hers is also a story of the power of prayer and friends and strangers who intervened. At the back of the book, there are resources for domestic abuse victims, for the people who love them or who simply want to gain a better understanding of the complex issues involved. The book even includes a “safety plan” with advice on how to prepare to get away from an abusive situation and what to take when you leave.

With John Muhammad behind bars, Mildred and her children finally are free from the terror. She remarried in 2007. Her son is in college, and her two daughters plan to attend colleges of performing arts. Mildred is on the speaking circuit; she's on the board of several organizations; consults with the federal Office for Victims of Crimes; and she's created “After the Trauma” to assist victims of domestic violence.

But for all the good stuff, a fairy-tale happy ending is still elusive because, as Mildred said, there's the execution to be dealt with, and she wrote, “My brain still has difficulty coming to terms with the fact that John was going to kill me; that I am not supposed to be here. I was supposed to be a statistic. And at times, my imagination still presents me a gruesome and graphic picture of a bloody, dead me.”

Original Article

November 1, 2009

Domestic Violence is a pattern of behavior...

I stumbled upon this information, and just wanted to share because of the way they put it truly goes along with the way I feel about Domestic Violence.  The children that are exposed to Domestic Violence are the ones that need to most consideration and the most help and protection.  Not only are they continued their exposure to domestic violence when made to have visitations with an abuser, but the damage is usually done and the next generation of abusers and victims are made.  This is what we are fighting for!  Yes, we are fighting to help get any Victim out of a Domestic Violence situation, but so many times we focus on only the adults, but what about the children?  The children who don't have a voice because they are too young to speak out? 

Too often I hear that abusers are put through "Anger Management" treatments and low and behold they are cured!  If they had anger issues, it wouldn't be hidden behind closed doors but in their work place, in society, and they would have already gotten into trouble with the law before getting in trouble for Domestic Violence.  Too often abusers go through this course, and then get to have visitations again with children that are already traumatized because of prior abuse, yet, the adult victim is most often made to continue the visitations or go to jail.  What happened to a parent protecting their child?  What happened to a Mother knowing that the children aren't safe with the abuser, yet MADE to let the children go for visitations as they sit at home in fear praying that the children come home safely.

Too often we hear "Why doesn't she just leave?"  Would you leave if it could possibly cost you your children as it has so many??  Or would you stay and deal with the monster that you already know?  Unfortunately, too many feel that they are safer dealing with the abuse and keeping it away from the children as much as possible, instead of running the risk of the abuser getting visitations, or worse, custody of the children and them not being able to protect them.

This part I feel says it all: "Abusive behaviors are not symptoms that someone is angry or out of control. An abuser makes a choice to exert power and control over his or her partner." 

If you believe that that abuse and need of power and control ends when the victim leaves the abuser, you are sadly mistaken.  Too many times it's when it begins a new cycle, and too many are paying that price...

Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence is a pattern of behavior where one partner in an intimate relationship chooses to use coercion, controlling and abusive behaviors to establish and maintain power and control over the other person. Tactics can include physical, psychological, sexual, economic, and emotional abuse. Domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels. Domestic violence occurs in both opposite-sex and same-sex relationships and can happen to intimate partners who are married, living together, separated, or dating. According to the U.S. Dept. of Justice "Family Violence Statistics" published in June 2005, females were 84% of spousal abuse victims and 86% of abuse victims at the hands of a boyfriend.

Domestic violence not only affects those who are abused, but also has a substantial effect on family members, friends, co-workers, other witnesses, and the community at large. Children, who grow up witnessing domestic violence, are among those seriously affected by this crime. Frequent exposure to violence in the home not only predisposes children to numerous social and physical problems, but also teaches them that violence is a normal way of life - therefore, increasing their risk of becoming society's next generation of victims and abusers.

Abusive behaviors are not symptoms that someone is angry or out of control. An abuser makes a choice to exert power and control over his or her partner.


http://www.community-works.org/index.php?/cw/domestic_violence/

Domestic Violence is a pattern of behavior...

October 25, 2009

Leader's son will be first to face FLDS sex assault trial

 

First FLDS sex assault trial starts on Monday

Polygamist sect leader's son is accused of having sex with minors

By TERRI LANGFORD
HOUSTON CHRONICLE
Oct. 24, 2009, 8:16AM

photo

DPS

Prosecutors say one wife of Raymond Merrill Jessop, 38, was younger than 18 when she gave birth.

The son of one of the most powerful families within a polygamist Mormon sect goes to trial for sexual assault Monday, a case in which Texas prosecutors will provide their first public evidence that Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints men engaged in sex with underage girls.

Raymond Merril Jessop, 38, is the first to face trial among 12 defendants who live at the sect's Yearning For Zion Ranch in Eldorado and are accused of arranging or participating in underage marriages. His father, Frederick Merril Jessop is the senior leader of the FLDS because the group's prophet, Warren Jeffs, is jailed in Utah for forcing girls into underage marriages in that state.

Both also are among the defendants in the Texas case, and each will be tried separately.

“I kept hoping this trial would go away,” said Willie Jessop, a spokesman for FLDS, who is not related to the defendant. “We're disappointed that they're moving forward with their program. We keep thinking they're going to recognize this thing as a hoax.”

The indictments are the result of documents and evidence pulled out of the YFZ ranch by the Texas Department of Public Safety after a caller, now believed to be a hoaxer, called a women's shelter in San Angelo in late March 2008. The caller claimed to be a physically and sexually abused teen-wife named Sarah.

Officials with the women's shelter notified Texas Child Protective Services and caseworkers were sent to the ranch a few days later. After seeing several young girls who were pregnant or mothers, a decision was made to remove all 439 children from the ranch, a move that was later reversed by the Texas Supreme Court.

The children were removed from the ranch and placed in foster homes across the state — an action that cost Texas taxpayers at least $12 million, authorities said. Eventually reunited with the parents, the raid on the ranch and the subsequent legal battles over their welfare ignited a national debate over religious freedom and property rights.

Sex with minor girls?

The particular charges in this first trial involve one of Jessop's nine wives whom prosecutors believe was less than 18 years of age when she gave birth to Jessop's daughter. The child was 3 years old at the time of the raid, said Willie Jessop.

The fact that the sect members “married” teenage girls younger than 18 years of age is not in dispute. The Texas Attorney General's Office will have to prove to jurors that the sect's idea of marriage involved sex with minor girls, which will not be an easy task considering that many of the children do not have birth certificates.

Last month, Deputy Attorney General Eric Nichols, the lead prosecutor, notified the court he would be introducing a number of extraneous acts and offenses in Raymond Jessop's case.

The allegations include how Jessop moved a 26-year-old pregnant wife out of the master bedroom in 1999 and moved a 19-year-old wife in; how he placed a 16-year-old wife and unborn child in danger in 2005; how he allegedly conspired with Jeffs, the church's leader, to commit acts of sexual assault and transporting a minor across state lines in 2005; alleged illegal banking activity that same year; and his reported abandonment in 2007 of nine wives and 22 children.

Reporting for jury duty

Hundreds of FLDS members who had lived along the border of Arizona and Utah for years, began moving to Eldorado in 2002 after buying 1,700 acres just northeast of the tiny town. Before the raid, Texas officials believed there were about 55 children at the ranch.

Most of the 439 were born on the ranch.

The FLDS broke from the larger Mormon Church over the issue of polygamy.

Since the raid, the FLDS members have said they are committed not to engage in underage marriages. Asked Friday whether they were living up to that commitment, Willie Jessop said he had no way of knowing what other people do.

“I don't know that,” he said.

The Schleicher County District Clerk's Office has called 300 of the county's approximate 2,800 residents to report Monday as potential jurors for the trial in Eldorado, about 400 miles northwest of Houston.

It is not known how many of the 300 potential jurors are FLDS members.

State District Judge Barbara Walther will try to seat a jury in Eldorado.

But if it is not possible, it may be necessary to move the trial to nearby San Angelo.

terri.langford@chron.com

Leader's son will be first to face FLDS sex assault trial | Houston & Texas News | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle




Strangulation attacks now carry year in jail

 

By Jaclyn O'Malley • jomalley@rgj.com • October 25, 2009

For many victims of domestic violence, the name-calling, slapping and pushing escalates into a pair of hands gripping so tightly around their necks, they can't breathe.

Many report they believe they are dying while their brains and bodies are depleted of oxygen at the hands of a loved one. Some lose consciousness within a minute, and are lucky if they survive, domestic violence advocates say.

But a new law is giving police officers and prosecutors some teeth in charging suspects who use this potentially lethal form of abuse. As of July, the act became a felony that has a minimum sentence of one year in prison. Before the change, abusers were charged with misdemeanor domestic battery and faced a maximum of six months in jail.

More than three dozen men and two women have been arrested in Washoe County in the three months since the new law took effect.

"We now have a way of taking away an abuser's tool of asserting power against someone by cu...Read the rest of this two page article here:  Strangulation attacks now carry year in jail | rgj.com | Reno Gazette-Journal




Tapping cell phones | Spyware | Mobile Phones | Spy Software - WTHR |

 

Tapping your cell phone

Posted: Nov 13, 2008 6:39 PM EST Thursday,

Updated: Jun 29, 2009 10:58 AM EDT Monday,

NEWS LINKS

 

Bob Segall/13 Investigates

Imagine someone watching your every move, hearing everything you say and knowing where you are at every moment. If you have a cell phone, it could happen to you. 13 Investigates explains how your cell phone can be secretly hijacked and used against you - and how to protect yourself.

After four months of harassing phone calls, Courtney Kuykendall was afraid to answer her cell phone.
The Tacoma, Washington, teenager was receiving graphic, violent threats at all hours.
And when she and her family changed their cell phone numbers and got new phones, the calls continued.
Using deep scratchy voices, anonymous stalkers literally took control of the Kuykendall's cell phones, repeatedly threatened Courtney with murder and rape, and began following the family's every move.
"They're listening to us and recording us," Courtney's mother, Heather Kuykendall, told NBC's Today Show. "We know that because they will record us and play it back as a voicemail."
How is something like this possible?
Just take a look on the internet. That's where you'll find the latest spy technology for cell phones.
"Anywhere, anytime"

Spyware marketers claim you can tap into someone's calls, read their text messages and track their movements "anywhere, anytime." They say you can "catch a cheating spouse", protect your children from an evil babysitter and "hear what your boss is saying about you." And while you're spying on others, the Spyware companies say "no one will ever know" because it's supposed to be "completely invisible" with "absolutely no trace."
Security experts say it's no internet hoax.

"It's real, and it is pretty creepy," said Rick Mislan, a former military intelligence officer who now teaches cyber forensics at Purdue University's Department of Computer and Information Technology.

Mislan has examined thousands of cell phones inside Purdue's Cyber Forensics Lab, and he says spy software can now make even the most high-tech cell phone vulnerable.
"I think a lot of people think their cell phone calls are very secure but our privacy isn't always what we think it is."
Is your privacy truly at risk?
13 Investigates tested some cell phone Spyware to find out.
With the permission of WTHR producer Cyndee Hebert, 13 Investigates purchased and downloaded Spyware on her personal cell phone.
Hebert agreed to be spied on - if the spy software lived up to its bold claims.
WTHR's Spy Test
The process of downloading the software took several attempts and a great deal of patience. But once the spy program was installed, Hebert's phone could indeed be tapped into at any time - just as its distributor promised.
While Hebert was at home making phone calls to her family, investigative reporter Bob Segall was outside her house, listening to the conversations on his cell phone.
And there's more - much more.
Every time Hebert made or received a phone call, Segall received an instant text message, telling him that Hebert was talking on her cell phone so that Segall could call in and listen.
On his computer, Segall also got a copy of Hebert's text messages and a list of phone numbers detailing each incoming and outgoing call to Hebert's cell phone.
And no matter where Hebert went with her phone, Segall received constant satellite updates on her location. He could literally track Hebert anywhere she went.
"It's hard to believe you can do all that," Hebert said when she saw the spy software in action. "I think that's really scary."
It gets even scarier.

When spy software was installed onto Hebert's phone, that phone became an instant spy device - even when the phone was not being used.
As Hebert's cell phone was simply sitting on a table or attached to her purse, Segall could activate the speaker on the phone and secretly listen in to the phone's surroundings. While Hebert was in a meeting on the 36th floor of a downtown Indianapolis building, Segall heard her conversations, even though he was four miles away.
13 Investigates found more than a dozen companies willing to sell this type of cell phone spy software, which ranges in price from $60 to $3,000. The majority of the companies are located in foreign countries such as Thailand, Taiwan and the United Kingdom - and for good reason.
Most of the advertised applications for the spy software are illegal in the United States, and the existence of the software angers CTIA-The Wireless Association, an industry organization representing the nation's major cell phone manufacturers.
"These are gross violations of federal and state laws," said association spokesman Joe Farren. "It's very clear, without their express permission, you can't listen in to someone's phone calls, you cannot read their text messages, you can't track their movements. You can't do any of those things and there are numerous laws being broken."
Farren said his organization was not familiar with cell phone Spyware prior to WTHR's investigation, adding "I can tell you our lawyers and engineers are now looking into this."
Government spying
The United States government is familiar with spy software for cell phones.
In 2003 and 2004, the FBI used cell phone spy software to eavesdrop on the conversations of organized crime families in New York, and it used those conversations in its federal prosecutions.
Private investigator Tim Wilcox says several federal agencies rely on cell phone spying technology to monitor suspected criminals, and he says private citizens are now using the technology, too.
"The technology is there. It's been there a long time. It's accessible, and it's done all the time," Wilcox said.
As founder of Indianapolis-based International Investigators Inc., Wilcox says he receives daily letters and e-mails from people wanting help with "cell phone bugging," the ability to download spy software onto a cell phone, turning it into a secret listening device.
"There's only two kinds of people," Wilcox said, holding a large stack of e-mails. "One wants to bug somebody and the other has been bugged and wants to know how it's being done and how to find out and how to stop it.... it's a federal crime, but it's still happening."
The harassment eventually did stop for the Kuykendalls, but only after they brought in police and the FBI. While authorities never figured out who hijacked the family's cell phones, security experts say the case serves as a powerful lesson for others.
"Your privacy is not your privacy. It is exposed and it is exploited," Mislan said. "The key is being vigilant and knowing how to protect yourself.

How to protect yourself
Mislan suggests keeping a close eye on your cell phone so that others never get an opportunity to download information such as spy software when you're not looking. He also says it's important to install a security password on your phone to restrict anyone else from using it.
And while some Spyware marketers claim their products can be used on any make and model of cell phone, Mislan says high-end cell phones that include internet access and online capability are particularly vulnerable to Spyware tapping. To limit the ability of others to download certain types of spyware onto your phone, choose a cell phone that is not internet-accessible.
Wilcox recommends removing the battery from your cell phone when it's not being used and, for sensitive phone calls, he suggests making them on a newly-purchased cell phone that comes with a pre-paid month-to-month service plan.
Based on WTHR's test, here are some subtle signs that could suggest your cell phone is being secretly tapped:
- Cell phone battery is warm even when your phone has not been used
- Cell phone lights up at unexpected times, including occasions when phone is not in use
- Unexpected beep or click during phone conversation

To view the video, please go to the original link here:  Tapping cell phones | Spyware | Mobile Phones | Spy Software - WTHR |




October 23, 2009

Abuse of moms may stunt kid's growth | Health | Reuters

 http://www.reuters.com/article/healthNews/idUSTRE59L4WJ20091022

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Children of abused mothers may be smaller at birth and show stunted early growth, according to research from Bangladesh.

Prior studies have shown that physical and sexual violence against women is associated with low birth weight of the offspring, as well as with an increased risk of early infant death.

To investigate further, Dr. Kajsa Asling-Monemi, at Uppsala University in Sweden, and colleagues determined the birth weight of 3,164 children and followed their early growth patterns until they were 2 years old.

Their mothers -- 4,436 altogether -- were mostly married and not employed. They were 26 years old on average at the start of the study.

Half of the mothers reported being a victim of some sort of family violence during their lives.

Fourteen percent experienced physical violence that involved slapping or shoving and 8 percent suffered more severe violence such as hitting, kicking, dragging, or choking. Eight percent of the women experienced severe violence while pregnant.

Additionally, 24 percent of the women reported some sort of sexual abuse, and another 28 percent said they had been insulted, humiliated, intimidated, or experienced other emotional abuse.

At birth, the children in the study weighed 2701 grams (about 6 pounds), on average. Overall, 33 percent were considered low birth weight, weighing less than 2500 grams (5.5 pounds) at birth. Children born to mothers reporting any type of violence tended to be in this low birth weight group.

Among children born to mothers reporting any violence, nearly 42 percent were underweight, about 13 percent were undernourished, and more than 55 percent had an impaired growth pattern known as stunting by the age of 2 years.

By contrast, among children of non-abused mothers, 37 percent were underweight, about 11 percent were undernourished, and almost 50 percent were stunted.

The association between mothers' abuse and impaired growth of their children remained strong after the investigators allowed for mother's education, number of previous births, and religion (Hindu mothers tended to have children who weighed less and were of shorter length than Muslim mothers).

Though most of the size differences between children born to abused, versus non-abused, mothers is present at birth, these findings show "violence-related growth retardation became more pronounced during the 2 years of follow up," Asling-Monemi and co-investigators point out in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

This study, they conclude, adds to the "multitude of confirmed and plausible health consequences" caused by violence against women.

SOURCE: Archives of Disease in Childhood, October 2009

Abuse of moms may stunt kid's growth | Health | Reuters

October 20, 2009

" INJUSTICE IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD"

PROTECTIVE MOTHERS ALLIANCE SUPPORTS LORRAINE TIPTON

On 10/14/09, Judge David Miron, Marinette County Circuit Court, stated that a disabled mother, Lorraine Tipton (formerly Fetterly) may be jailed for 30 days, on contempt of court charges. This contempt is due to the fact that her 11 year old daughter refuses to visit her abusive father, Craig Hensberger.

In fact, the forty one year old mother is facing another contempt charge. This charge involves the father's intention to claim the child on his 2008 taxes, even though the IRS sanctioned him for claiming his child "EIC" from 1999 to 2007 unlawfully. This contempt charge would force the mother to potentially face another 30 days in county jail.

Mrs. Tipton, never married the father, Craig Hensberger, and left the abusive relationship in 2005. Since then Mrs. Tipton has moved on, married and put her life back together. Regardless, Mr. Hensberger continually has taken her back to court, three times in 12 months, regarding the 11 year old daughter's refusal to visit her abusive father.

You may recognize the name of Craig Hensberger, as the father from the news story highlighted in Fox 11, NBC 26 and other local newspapers. This story entitled "Fishy Tale" broke in March of this year. The father, Craig Hensberger, caught a fish weeks in advance, kept it alive in a fish tank and succeeded in fraudulently presently this fish to three different fishing tournaments in one weekend. The daughter won these tournaments based on her fathers hoax.
For more information on this news story, please click on this link.
http://www.nbc26.com/Global/story.asp?S=10005532

But Craig Hensberger's crimes do not end here. Previously in June 2005 this father was arrested for his second DUI in less than a year with his daughter as a passenger. In another incident the child disclosed sexual abuse about her father in 2006. Once again instead of helping the child, CPS, Aaron Krzewinksi (Guardian Ad Litem) and other court professionals placed her back into the hands of her abusive father.

CPS finally did substantiate the abuse in 2008 but the father found a loophole and was granted an administrative appeal by Oconto County Family Court Commissioner, Frank M. Calvert.

Previously, in 2007, Mr. Calvert recused himself from any proceedings regarding Mrs. Tipton due to his role as Guardian Ad Litem in her divorce/custody dispute with her ex husband.

On May 21, 2008, Mr. Calvert held a hearing, in which Mrs. Tipton was not notified. This ex parte hearing unsubstantiated the sexual abuse and attacked the character and credibility of Mrs. Tipton.

The most interesting fact on this case is that this is a "Paternity" case and the mother had sole legal custody until her former abuser, Craig Hensberger, forged her signature on a court stipulation in 2002.

The stipulation gave him "50/50" custody and forgave back child support that was owed. The Oconto District Attorney, Jay Conley, told Mrs. Tipton that "even though we know who the likely suspect is we have no proof". Because of this the District Attorney refused to investigate and/or file charges.

The refusal of the District Attorney, Jay Conley, to investigate and/or file charges prompted Mrs. Tipton to get her own hand writing analysis. The forensic hand writing analysis expert confirmed that it was not her signature. When she presented this evidence to the District Attorney these findings were minimized and ignored with Mr. Conley stating, "This only proves this is not your signature".

We at Protective Mothers Alliance support Lorraine Tipton as she is a protective mother. Protective Mothers Alliance is a "grassroots" organization founded by Lundy Bancroft and Janice Levinson. We are dedicated to ensuring the rights of children and protective mothers in family court.

For more information about the horrible injustice that is being done to Lorraine Tipton and her daughter you may visit the PMA supports Lorraine Tipton site:
http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/group.php?gid=186300639921&ref=ts
You can also visit the Lundy Bancroft/ Janice Levinson Protective Mothers Alliance page:
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=58041937814#/group.php?gid=58041937814&v=info

Documentation available upon request.

Feel free to contact with any questions or concerns.

Janice Levinson
Co Founder/Co Director
Protective Mothers Alliance International
PMA....a family of advocates

October 18, 2009

Leadership Council's Child Abuse and Custody Questionnaire

The Leadership Council is conducting a survey about Child Abuse and Custody.  If you fit into a category where either of those pertain to you, I urge you to take this survey.  Below is a little about it.  It takes about 20 to 30 minutes.  Without people doing the research to show that laws need to be revamped, changed or new ones all together......these laws will remain and abuse will continue to reign, with very little consequences to the abusers.  Please pass this on to anyone else you think may be interested in taking this survey.  Any bloggers out there?  Blog it too, please!

Long URL:  https://www.leadershipcouncil.org/survey/index.php?ch=d88fc6edf21ea464d35ff76288b84103
Short URL:  http://bit.ly/3hf6hB

The responses on this questionnaire will be reviewed and tabulated regularly to supply information to the media, legislators and academic investigations.

The information you post is confidential and will be reviewed only by the researchers and administrators who are working with the data. It cannot be accessed by the public, and as research data is protected information.

The information from this questionnaire will be utilized for the purpose of furthering our understanding of child protection issues. Group trends will be shared, but no individual data will be shared without explicit permission from you.

Thank you very much for your efforts in helping us generate information that may protect children from abuse.

The Leadership Council is a nonprofit independent scientific organization composed of respected scientists, clinicians, educators, legal scholars, and public policy analysts. We are committed to providing professionals and lay persons with the latest scientific information on issues that may affect the public's health and safety. We also seek to correct the misuse of psychological science to serve vested interests or justify victimizing vulnerable populations -- especially abused and neglected children.  The Leadership Council - Homepage

October 17, 2009

Family Violence in Canada Annual Report

 

This is the twelfth annual Family Violence in Canada report produced by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics under the Federal Family Violence Initiative. This annual report provides the most current data on the nature and extent of family violence in Canada, as well as trends over time, as part of the ongoing initiative to inform policy makers and the public about family violence issues.

Each year the report has a different focus. This year, the focus of the report is a profile of shelters that provide residential services to women and children fleeing abusive situations. Data for this profile come from the Transition Home Survey, a biennial census of residential facilities for female victims of family violence in Canada.

In addition, using police-reported data, the report also presents fact sheets, data tables and figures examining spousal violence, family violence against children and youth, family violence against seniors (aged 65 years and older), and family-related homicides. 

To view or download the report please visit the StatCan Website, or follow the link above.

CA victim confidential address program getting update effective Jan 2010

 

Friday, October 16, 2009

CA victim confidential address program getting update effective Jan 2010

 
The California Secretary of State released today that the Safe At Home Victim Confidential Address Program is getting a much needed update to aid victims wanting a confidential name change.
Presently name changes are public records even for victims of crime including victims of domestic violence who are at a high risk for stalking, continued harassment or even death.
With the upgrade to the Safe At Home Program it is indicated that victims' in the program will be given special accommodations stemming form this legislation that will mark their name changes confidential so that they prevent publication in public records databases and datafurnishing companies.
I hope this update is actually implemented. Far too often legislation is passed and caught in what I refer to often as a, "legislative log jam" and quality life saving legislation that benefits victims' never comes to fruition, and the old saying "fail to plan, plan to fail" applies.
This is good news that CA Secretary of State is finally considering updates, I have lobbied for them for almost 5 years when I first realized how flawed the CA Safe At Home Program was and how dangerous it is for victims who rely upon it without disclaimers of its short comings.
I remain cautious and skeptical knowing that big government has big flaws and for victims of domestic violence its far too often a matter or life or death so it is always better to error on the side of safety.
A message to those reading including vulnerable victims' of domestic violence, rape and stalking please be advised it won't take much for this program update to fail. It would only take one person to miss the "confidential stamp" on the courts file or within the cover sheet of the name change paperwork to have what should have been a "confidential name change" become part of cyberspace and published within the on-line datafurnishing agencies for all (including the batterers) to see.
Proceeding with cautious optimism.
If you are a victim of crime in need of privacy protection you are not alone, please visit Survivors In Action web site.
Privacy protection is a serious matter. Whether you are a defendant who testified in a criminal case, law enforcement that tackles the bad guys or a senior wanting to prevent identity theft, privacy protection is a serious concern that everyone has to address in the very visible 21st century and Survivors In Action is here to help ensure "No Victim is Left Behind"
Survivors In Action
"No Victim Left Behind"

Alexis A. Moore: CA victim confidential address program getting update effective Jan 2010

October 16, 2009

Soldiers, family, community prevent domestic abuse

 

Oct 15, 2009

By Cheryl Harrison

 Domestic Violence 1
Photo credit Cheryl Harrison
Pvt. Enedina Greer, 232nd Medical Battalion, solemnly holds her candle high during a candlelight vigil and silent witness presentation, all part of the Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month ceremony on Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

 

Related Links

FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- In an effort to bring Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month to everyone's attention, the annual opening ceremony was held here, Oct. 1 at Army Community Services.
October is the month that each year as much information as possible is presented throughout the civilian and military communities to recognize the Domestic Violence Prevention program.
Michael Waldrop, deputy to the U.S. Army Garrison commander, Fort Sam Houston, opened the ceremony with remarks and the reading of the proclamation.
"The Army is now fully cognizant that the total well being of our Soldiers is totally dependent on the well being of our Soldier's families. The quality of life and maintenance of that quality of life is important to all of us and important to the Army in a broad perspective. To meet the mission we must preserve that quality and that includes domestic violence," said Waldrop.
Each year 3.5 million violations are committed against family members. The Army has its proportionate share of that. Domestic violence is not to be condoned. Do not turn a blind eye."
During the ceremony, stories of domestic abuse were read from the female and male perspective. Silhouettes were also on display with other stories of violence against family members.
In a more poignant testimony, Sarah Small, the guest speaker, told her story of seven years of abuse by her then husband, and prince charming, who also was a member of law enforcement. Her words were ones that would echo in the minds of the listeners.
"It couldn't happen to me," said Small of her life before the abuse began. But, she found it could happen to her, and it could happen to anyone.
Small, an advocate for domestic abuse awareness, spoke from the heart as she replayed the events that led to her writing her own obituary over five years ago. However, her words weren't needed and she is a survivor of a crowbar attack to her head and face, and loaded guns put to her head and in her mouth, stabbings, punching, slaps and even the killing of her dogs as means of threatening intimidation.
Small survived the seven years of brutal abuse and today uses her story to tell others of how domestic abuse can happen to anyone. "As an 'Army of one' we need to be aware of the unusual. Ask about the sunglasses if they aren't the norm for an individual, unusual bruises, sudden withdrawal, be aware," urged Small.
Following Small's unforgettable words of terror and escape from her abuser was a candlelight vigil, a silent witness presentation in honor of the victims of domestic abuse. Members of the audience held flickering 'candles' as the Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention ceremony came to a solemn conclusion.
Domestic Violence Awareness is something everyone needs take seriously. Survivors don't necessarily like to stand before a crowd and share their stories of abuse, but everyone needs to hear them. If they make the listeners squirm in their seats then the words have touched the heart.
From the words of the proclamation, "We need all Soldiers, civilians, family members and retirees at this installation to dedicate themselves to the prevention of domestic abuse. Everyone is called upon to be a part of the perfect combination for prevention."

Soldiers, family, community prevent domestic abuse

October 15, 2009

California's GOP vote-boycott ends, key bills pass

 

Squabbles -- both between and within the parties -- are set aside as senators unanimously vote to restore domestic violence funding and make it easier for localities to borrow money.

Reporting from Sacramento - Setting aside political squabbles, Senate Republicans lifted their blockade on several budget bills Wednesday, voting with Democrats to approve measures that restore funding cut from domestic violence shelters and help cities and counties borrow money to balance their budgets.
Republican lawmakers had refused last month to help muster the necessary two-thirds vote for two dozen pieces of legislation in a dispute over unrelated matters.
"We've resolved the issues and we're moving forward," Senate minority leader Dennis Hollingsworth of Murrieta said after Wednesday's vote.
Lawmakers said they hope to carry the new bipartisanship into negotiations over a plan to upgrade California's water system. The Senate on Wednesday gaveled in special sessions on water and tax reform.
Senators voted unanimously to approve a measure restoring $16 million cut from the budget for 94 domestic violence shelters, forcing half a dozen shelters to close and others to reduce their services.
"We have put more families at risk," Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) said of the cuts. "When shelters close down, lives are at stake."
The spat between the two parties was not the only one that affected SB3X 13. The Democratic leadership stripped Yee's authorship of the bill... Read more here:  California's GOP vote-boycott ends, key bills pass -- latimes.com

October 14, 2009

Abusers Use the Court System to Continue Victimization

This is a copy of the speech written by Gail Lakritz and given today by Angela Warren at the Pueblo Colorado Conference. This speech was given to judges, police, lawyers and DV advocates.

How Abusers Use The Court System To Continue to Victimize Their Partners and Children

When a woman finally makes that decision to end the abuse and to flee the abusive situation, she rightfully expects that the police, her lawyers and the courts will protect her and her children from further harm. Being a member of the Sheriff's Posse, that is what I was thought. After all, the courts always operate solely by the law, correct? (Scan audience for nods of agreement) We all know that does not happen and that is why I was so confused by my litigation. When injustice reared its ugly head, it flew in the face of everything I thought our country stood for, and, as with most victims of abuse, I came to realize that the system is stacked against the victim.

Today, I want to speak to you about some of the ways the abuser will use the system to further the abuse during the litigation process. It is my hope that, by exposing these tactics, you will recognize in your peers, and perhaps yourselves, what is being done has real, and all too often, deadly consequences.

The litigation abuse begins the moment the abuser is arrested. He plays on the sympathy of the arresting officers. He will use excuses to enlist them in his game. He is, after all, a master at deception. He has years of practice. He is the person who can look you straight in the eye and lie. During the ride to the lock up, he will say things like "She is an alcoholic or a drug addict", "She is always picking on the kids" or "She takes all the money and spends it on herself and we never have enough to eat." Anything that will garner sympathy and sway them to lessen the severity of what is written in the arrest report. And, being taught to spot the antagonist of a situation as they true perpetrator of the situation, the police officer, who is generally male, will empathize with the abuser, and slant his report to favor the abuser. He will ignore what he has been taught, that the victim is most often the one who is hysterical and angry at having been attacked and side with the often calm and rational sounding architect of the situation. And the abuser has gained his first needed corner stone to further the abuse, for in the future, any calls to 911 will be met with skepticism by the police and all future reports of violence will be seen as insane acts by the actual victim.

During the booking process and his appearance for arraignment, when the victim is not present to hear what is being said to the magistrate, he will again repeat his reasons for the attack. Laying the blame on the victim. Now he has widened his circle of conspirators. Word will filter from these people to the Bailiff and on to the judge that there were "extenuating circumstances" that predicated the attack.

Now, as we all know, the key to any successful litigation is money. With money, comes the right lawyers and a venue that is considered to be the "home turf" for that lawyer. Abusers control the money, therefore, they can afford the lawyers who consider winning to be the sole measure of success, not the just application of the law.

In each court system in America, there are lawyers that are known to be the "dirty trick" lawyers. They are the ones who use often unethical and illegal means to deny the Constitutional Rights of a litigant and victim. They will look the other way, or outright encourage, the use of terror tactics against a victim. Judges and other lawyers within the local Bar Association know who these practitioners are will look the other way. In some court systems, judges will actually instruct new lawyers with "I don't care what you do in my courtroom so long as I am not investigated" leaving the avenue open for them to ply their brand of law in any manner they see fit. The idea is to win, not to be just. The abuser will seek out these lawyers, perhaps getting the name of one from a police officer or someone else in the system who just happens to be overheard talking or from another inmate in the lock up.

So now, the abuser has assembled his "dream team". The police, the dirty tricks lawyer and the complacent judge. What more could he ask for than to have swayed the system and set the victim up for further abuse? The abuser will get a slap on the wrist, be sent to Anger Management and, in some jurisdictions, have his record of abuse sealed. In Anger Management, the prep will learn new and better ways of abusing. He will learn to abuse without leaving the outward marks that would land him back in jail. He will hone his skills, through the knowledge passed on by other perpetrators attending these sessions. The things that worked for them will be shared in group in the form of "I reacted to the situation by...." You fill in the blank, as each and every one of you know the tactics, know how the pain can be caused both mentally and physically to a victim without leaving the marks or a trail of abuse.

The first thing the abuser will do after being released from jail is to widen his circle of allies. His dirty tricks lawyer has instructed him to get out in front of his victim, and being the superior liar that he is, he is only too willing to accommodate. Generally, abusers are loners, having few friends and having disassociated themselves from family. He has allowed only minimal if any contact between his victim and her family. He will suddenly become the "social butterfly" contacting people to enlist their help, always with the story of having been the victim in the situation. Neighbors that were shunned by him in the past are now become his confidants. Whispers of abuse by the victim are passed from one person to another. This serves two purposes. It provides a support system for the abuser as well as removing any hope of support for the victim.

The next step to the tried and true method of using the system to abuse is to make the victim seem insane to the system. The abuser or one of his allies will begin the relentless process of attacks that are designed to discredit. Break-ins of the home of the victim are a common means as are well placed phone calls where the abuser uses threats, such as the victim never seeing her children again. An abuser will actually enlist the help of the unwitting child, promising rewards of gifts or, if teenagers, no boundaries to live by. The abuser will reward the child for such things as removing evidence against the abuser from the victims home, lying to police or being complacent about what was witnessed in an incident. Often, no system of reward is needed. It is fear of the abuser, that places the child in the unenviable situation of having to lie. The child senses what will cause the wrath of the abuser to rise against them. If you come away from this presentation with anything, this is the one piece of information I hope you retain. The cycle of abuse is learned and continued by this one tactic alone, using the children as tools of abuse. Any person within the system who even suggests that the abuser use this tactic is guilty of nothing less than murder. (Scan the audience to see who is squirming or looks disinterested and focus your eyes on them for a split second. They are a guilty party.)

Police, having been repeatedly told that the victim is insane, will respond to such things as break-ins as a sign that the abuser is correct in his assessment of the victim. All too often, the abuser will leave something that informs the victim he was there, but at the point in time that the police are called, the victim will not know what is missing, if anything. Sometimes the victim will find veiled death threats, a picture that only the victim and her abuser knows the meaning of, a cartoon left on the computer screen, that is meant to frighten and intimidate. A tire will be slashed when her car is hidden from public view, mementos that have little or no monetary value will be missing. Reporting these incidents to the police enforce the abuser's position. And, when the victim turns to her lawyer for help, if she has one, she is told to ignore all violations of her home and person. You see, it takes two lawyers to execute a well choreographed legal Tango, and by this time, the repeated calls to the police by the victim, the well placed lies by the perpetrator, and, with the assistance of the complacent judge, her lawyer has been won over to not assist in any meaningful manner. Thus the victim is turned into the abuser and seen only as a source of possible revenue for her own lawyer who will offer little if any assistance in seeing that justice is blind, not blinded by gold. ( Pick out a person you have predetermined to be guilty and look directly at them)

During the actual litigation process, there will be a number of players that will be easily swayed by the events that have lead up to this process. GALs and CLRs are swayed by having contact with the abuser and his ever growing stable of allies, lawyers, police and judges. If the children are afraid of the abuser, they dare not say anything to these people that would endanger themselves. Social workers, mental health professionals, even medical doctors who rely on the system for income will not oppose the well built facade of the abuser and his well scripted theater of abuse.

At this point, I would like to see a show of hands. How many of you are judges? Please raise your hands. Keep your hands raised, please. How many are police officers? Keep your hands raised, please. How many of you are lawyers who represent abuse victims exclusively? Good, now if you could all stand up and look around. Do you recognize people from your own court systems in this room? Isn't it nice to know that some of the people who are not standing could, and I emphasis the word could, be manipulating you? (Pause for about 10 seconds) Thank you, you may all be seated.

How do the dirty tricks lawyers actually manipulate? First, talk is cheap, and the dirty tricks lawyer and his client never seem to run out of voice. They will take every chance to influence the judge and the opposition lawyer if there is one, the GAL and CLR, the therapist and mental health evaluator , the social worker, shelter workers and people in the Court Clerk's office. Ex parte is common and rampant in any court system. It can't be stopped unless you, the judges, choose to stop it. A few well placed words prior to the opening of court, the happened, but planned, introduction of the abuser to you prior to proceedings so that you can see how likeable this person is and to get his side, again getting out ahead of the opposition in the litigation. Tools used to put a human face on an inhuman act of violence.

During the early stages of the litigation, the dirty tricks lawyer and an abuser will go for the "all or nothing" approach to a custody question. The abuser, and his lawyer, being confident in the groundwork they have already laid, will not present a parenting plan. They will often seek to move out of the jurisdiction, often so far away from the abused, as to effectively terminate all parental rights. The abused, on the other hand will present a generous plan which will include more time with the abuser than a court would normally mandate. The judge, being the Solomon of the court, knows he cannot split a child down the middle, will have to award temporary custody to one parent or another, and this is usually to the person who already has "possession" of the child at the time of the hearing. (make the hand sign for quotes when you say the word possession). If the victim was forced to flee without the child, or if the child happens to be visiting the abuser at the time of the hearing, guess who gets the temporary custody? Yup, the abuser.

This is the beginning of the motions process. The abuser's lawyer will file motions with the court, often filing them back to back, and always asking for contempt sanctions against the victim. If the victim is unrepresented, this confuses and terrorizes her. If she is one of the fortunate ones, one of the women who was able to afford a lawyer, and motions and subpoenas are filed on her behalf, they are ignored by the dirty tricks lawyer. In the meantime, if she is Pro Se, her filings are ignored by the clerk's office or disappear all together. It never ceases to amaze me how often victims report missing filings, even whole files of proceedings that have gone missing. I can only surmise how it could happen, all of which violate state law. When she asks for a subpoena which must go through the courts for approval, the subpoena that is received for service contains errors made by the person who entered it into the system, precluding the effectiveness of that subpoena. These errors would only be obvious to a trained lawyer, thereby giving the dirty tricks lawyer a reason to quash.

The motions process will offer more ample opportunities for the dirty tricks lawyer to ply his trade. He will mail important filings to the wrong address, often transposing the actual numbers, to prevent receipt in time for rebuttal. He will refuse to accept mail from the Pro Se and then claim that it was not sent to him. He will state a date and time verbally, but put another date and time in writing, often bolding it to attract attention to the erroneous information. He will send a copy of a minor issue in a motion, with proof of mailing, and have a second copy hand served. The problem with this is that he has actually filed two separate motions with the court, one of paramount importance and the one of minor importance. He will then have proof of two separate deliveries to the victim and state that the one hand served was in reference to the major issue while the one mailed was in reference to the minor issue. Of course, he will blame all of this on the victim. She gave me the wrong address, I never got it, she was served and I have the proof.

Depositions are an extremely useful tool for the trickster. Though most states follow the rules of the Federal Courts for deposition, tricksters do not. As all lawyers know, the only time depositions should be used is when information cannot be gotten by subpoena. The dirty tricks lawyer will force deposition to make the victim face her abuser in an environment controlled by the trickster. One deposition trick will be to inform the pro se that a date and time for a deposition of his client has been set. He will send a list of questions to be asked, and state that the deposition will be limited to these questions. This offers the opportunity to pound the Pro Se with intimidation and terrorist tactics of threats. It also forces the Pro Se into setting up a second deposition of her own. Not knowing that it is not required to submit questions in advance, the Pro Se will dutifully submit the entire list of questions to the trickster, giving him time to concoct answers that would favor him. And lest the abuser make a mistake, there is nothing to worry about. The Court Reporter in attendance is one favored by the lawyer. One only need to Google the search term "Changed Transcripts" to confirm this is a common practice. The number of hits are well in excess of 7,000,000.

Proffers are useful when it comes to the dirty tricks lawyer. It is not uncommon for them to submit Proffers to the Pro Se that are never filed with the courts. These are filled with the lies that the abuser intends on in court and are designed to see which arguments are going to be used to counteract the lies in court.

Surprise witnesses are the life blood of the trickster. No subpoena has been issued to these people to appear, but they just happen to be in the area when the court date came up. Judges have a duty to curtail the use of these convenient witnesses, but seldom do, preferring to overrule objections. Often, they are nothing more than hired guns for the defense, parroting whatever the trickster wants them to say. There is often no rebuttal for their testimony, as the Pro Se or her lawyer had no time to prepare for their appearance.

Witness tampering is blatantly illegal but used by the dirty trick lawyer and his client at every turn. All that is needed is for the potential witness to be mislead with a story of the victim being the true abuser, and after all, if they testify, they would be putting the children, and perhaps themselves, in danger. Surely, anyone in their right mind would not want to testify under these circumstances, given that few people are willing to testify in the first place. If that doesn't work, there is intimidation of the witness. Most people have something in their backgrounds they would prefer no one find out. The dirty tricks lawyer is a master at using innuendo and sources like police, family and acquaintances to find that one skeleton. If that doesn't work, there is always the avenue of the witness's employer. Innuendo can be placed in letters to the employer from the lawyer stating that this or that has never been cleared.

In his bag, the dirty trick lawyer and his client rely on the assistance of Child Protective Services. If a direct call from his client does not produce the desired response, there is always the "innocent and disconnected" third party report. These reports can vary from the upper end of sexual abuse or exploitation of the child to reports that the mother is furnishing drugs to the child to such things as a child being left alone. In one case I know of, the GAL was talked into calling CPS when a teenage boy overdosed. What the GAL forgot to report was that the 15 year old had arrived from his father's home with a plastic bag full of pills, and when the mother discovered them, he grabbed them and downed them in an attempt to get rid of the evidence. The same mother was accused of leaving the than 16 year old alone for two hours by the same GAL. Again the GAL left out a very important fact. The child was at the home of a friend.

Court orders are often altered to reflect what the attorney and abuser wants. One mother, while living here in Colorado heard a knock on her door one day. The father, who had never once exercised his visitation, had moved five years previously to Washington state. He went to the local Colorado police with an altered court order for full custody of the son, than 7 years old. No one questioned the validity of the order, in fact, the police were only too willing to help him in removing the child from the mother. She never saw her son again. She was able to locate him last year in a suburb of Seattle, but now 20, he has had it drilled into his head that she wanted nothing to do with him and had willing given him up.

If all else fails, there is always the use of Parental Alienation to fall back on. Dr. Richard Gardner, using no identifiable research and much to the consternation of all recognized authorities, first placed this Syndrome in the minds of the courts to discredit mothers and to help men save on alimony and child support payments. We are all familiar with the theory that states that the mother is toxic to the relationship between the father and his children and that the only true cure for this toxicity is to severely limit visitation or to remove it all together. Abusers and their attorneys love to use PAS. It is one of the most effective forms of abuse of the victim.

Through all the court abuse, and I have only touched on some of the verifiable things that women suffer in the courtroom, there is a continued onslaught from the abuser. Stalking, break-ins, destruction of property and threats of further harm to the victim are normal. Checks for alimony or child support that are never received are also widely reported. Harassment is an ongoing problem to the victim. Planting seeds of doubt of a mother's love for her child in the child's mind, any avenue an abuser can think of will be used.

All of this for one objective, to carry on the abuse. And, the players in the courtroom are all aiders and abettors to that abuse, whether they realize it or not. The crimes we allow these people to get away with are crimes that are punishable by law, and by each and every one of you allowing them to be predicated on victims of violence, you are taking part in those crimes.

Now, as one last thing, I would like some of you to take part in a fun little exercise to reinforce some of what you have heard here today. I would ask that every judge in the audience stand up and glace around the room. I want you to pick out a person here that you do not know and walk over to them and without saying a word, I want you to grasp their hand and shake it. (Wait for them to do this)

Now, again without giving this person your name, I want you to whisper in their ear the year, color and make and model of the car your closest loved one drives. Now, I want you, without giving the city or town you live in, to tell them the street address of that person. Good. You have just given someone who may be a trickster lawyer or an abuser all the information they need. You have just put your loved one in danger, possibly signing that their death warrant. Think about it and try to have a nice day.